Category Archives: Healthcare Partners

Student Spotlight: Skylar Tangren

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Tangren (far right) with her family. Photo courtesy of Tangren.

By Corbin Smith

One of the goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to help each student find their niche while in school. The college hopes that students will be introduced to an endless numbers of possibilities while in the program. For example, this week, the College of Nursing hosted a special Career Night for all current students, and exposed them to the many different ways that their skills can be applied to serve today!

For 5th semester student Skylar Tangren, though, she was able to find her niche on her own. She found it in an unusual way: a Facebook post! However, her journey to become an LPN nurse started long before that moment she signed into Facebook that day.

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Like it often does, Tangren’s path to becoming a nursing student and then a LPN nurse started in high school. As she approached graduation, she began to put serious thought into what she was going to focus on once she arrived here on campus. “I really liked English, and I still really love that kind of stuff,” she says, “but the opportunity I had to volunteer in the hospital really made me want to be a nurse.”

What is it that happened in the hospital that got Tangren so excited to be a nurse? There were two experiences, in fact, that fueled that fire inside her. First, she had the chance to get some hands-on experience as she shadowed her mom’s cousin, who is a labor and delivery nurse. Tangren recalls, “I walked in and she said, ‘We are doing a C section today!’ I was so nervous. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me! I just loved it!”

Another experience came as she worked at the information desk at the hospital. While fulfilling her responsibilities, she made a special connection with a certain patient. “There was one man who would come in for therapy,” she remembers, “And every time he came in he would give me the biggest smile. It wasn’t until the last day that I realized how serious his condition was. It meant so much to me that he would take time out of his busy and tough day to notice me.”

This second experience transformed into a lesson that turned into the foundation of Tangren’s motivation to work as a nurse. “I think at that moment I realized that I wanted to be that person who walks in and helps make people feel better when they’re so vulnerable during that time in their lives,” she says.

This important lesson Tangren learned many years ago has helped her in her current job. Recently she has begun working as an LPN for Horizon Home Health, a hospice home health organization that sends nurses to patient’s homes to receive care.

This style and environment is beneficial as nurses and patients are able to develop a deeper relationship with one another. “It is really special because you work with someone you see and talk with regularly. You strengthen the relationship with the patient and the family. It is truly just like a unique friendship!” Tangren explains.


Tangren has been very successful in her work, and she accredits her professors for teaching her how to make a difference through loving service. “They’re all such genuine people! It makes me think about what kind of person I want to be and how I want to contribute to this world,” Tangren says.

When asked what her biggest piece of advice to new students would be, she said is to invest heavily in relationships with your instructors and peers. Never leave an opportunity on the table to get to know them better and understand their story!

Today, as we work our way through midterm season, take the time to find someone new in class or in the NLC and learn a little bit of their story. Like Tangren says, “Have confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid.” You never know what you could learn.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle in Prison


By Corbin Smith


Sometimes, as a society, it is easy for us to forget that prisoners truly are human beings. We often think of inmates as savages, people who deserve to suffer for the crimes they have committed. We think of people like Ted Bundy or Bonnie and Clyde and it fills our hearts and minds with disgust towards these men and women. Not only that, but we are also scared of jails, only thinking about the horrific stories and rumors we hear. We timidly gaze at the walls as we drive by on the freeway, wondering if what the media tells us is true. Never would we choose to go inside!

That’s not how associate teaching professor Dr. Peggy Anderson thinks! For many years, Anderson has worked with, loved and served those who are currently in prison. In fact, in the past Anderson served as the Relief Society President in the Utah state prison, providing both temporal and spiritual support for the prisoners.

Along with her own personal endeavors, Anderson has begun to invite students to participate in a women’s fireside inside the prison as part of their clinical practicum of the public and global health nursing course. However, this experience is much different than the clinical practicums that take you abroad.

On May 19th, Anderson, accompanied by a group of students, went to the Utah State Prison with the goal to serve, bless and teach those inside. The theme of the fireside was “Enjoying a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus of Anderson and the students was to help the inmates understand the importance of not only physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health. Speaking of their purpose in the prison, 5th semester student Kayla Brantley says, “The prison is supposed to be a correctional facility. Correction needs to take place and they need help to make that correction for themselves, which is what we are there for.”

For that reason, students shared small devotionals with the inmates on a variety of topics. Some of the topics shared by the students included self-worth, dealing with stress, strength in Christ and even the Atonement. Brantley and her husband, Adam, also shared their talents in a unique way through a special musical number, singing “I Know My Redeemer Lives” with the ukulele!

While this fireside was beneficial for the inmates, it also was impactful for the students. Talking about his experience with the inmates, 6th semester student James Reinhardt says, “It was cool to be able to feel the Spirit in the prison and even feel the Spirit with them.” Since the fireside, Reinhardt has begun working shifts in the prison and has decided to do his capstone project there too!

It was an unforgettable experience for all who participated in the fireside. The greatest lesson the students were able to learn was that, even though in prison, each of the women attending the fireside are people who have value and worth. “It’s easy to think about what terrible things they could have done to get into prison, but as soon as you meet and see them you remember God loves them and Jesus sacrificed himself so they could be freed,” says Brantley.


CON receives $50,000 in scholarship money from Intermountain Healthcare


Pictured from left to right are Brenda Voisara from Intermountain Healthcare HR department, Cosmo, Dean Patricia Ravert, and Nathan Peterson of the Community Giving department.

By Quincey Taylor

Recently the College of Nursing accepted a generous donation of $50,000 from Intermountain Healthcare. Intermountain has donated to the college before, and college officials wish to express their deep gratitude.

Every semester, students come to BYU not knowing exactly how they will be able to pay for tuition. That is where donations like this comes in. This money will go towards helping students through scholarships. Intermountain hopes their donation will promote diversity in the student population.

Diversity in the student population can mean many things. It can mean promoting racial or ethnic minorities at BYU. It can mean being male in a typically female-dominated field. It can mean returning to school at a non-traditional age or time of life. It can mean helping students from different socioeconomic backgrounds or starting a BYU legacy with a first-generation student.

Cara Wiley from the College of Nursing Advisement Center explains that they are also looking for potential scholarship recipients that have had diverse experiences with different populations around the world. An example would be students with a women’s studies minor, which has its own study abroad across four different countries where students focus on helping women specifically.

When asked why Intermountain is giving scholarships to promote diversity, Wiley says, “They are trying to diversify their workforce. To do that, you diversify the students that will become your workforce.” They will begin picking candidates for scholarships in the fall, and hope to find those that can contribute to the diversity of the nursing program.

Wiley is so thankful for the donation and stresses, “This is a huge benefit for our students. It’s also a benefit to the college because it can be used in a variety of ways…There are a lot of students who have financial needs, a lot more than anyone thinks. There are some that are really having some serious struggles and it’s nice to have this kind of donation. Students’ thank-you letters say it all, you can feel their appreciation and love.”

All Hands on Deck: BYU Nursing Students Onboard the USNS Mercy

By Calvin Petersen

As BYU nursing students and faculty boarded the thousand-bed floating hospital moored in San Diego Bay, they realized their experience on the USNS Mercy was going to be more than just salutes and strict rules. Over the next two days, they had the unique opportunity to see firsthand how the military cares for its veterans.

A Rare Invitation

The San Diego trip resulted from a phone call Dr. Kent Blad received one sweltering morning last summer. Blad is a teaching professor and director of the veteran global health program at the BYU College of Nursing. When he answered the phone, Blad was surprised to hear the man on the other end introduce himself as lieutenant commander of the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship commissioned to serve the Pacific fleet. In addition to supporting military personnel with medical and surgical services, the Mercy undertakes humanitarian relief missions.

The Mercy’s lieutenant commander had read about BYU’s veteran global health course, co-taught by Blad and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. He asked, “What can you tell me about what I just read?” “Funny you ask,” Blad replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call.”

By the end of the conversation, the lieutenant commander invited Blad, Hunsaker and their nursing students to San Diego to tour the Mercy and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Naval Medical Center San Diego is one of three major U.S. polytrauma centers that serve wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was the first time we’ve received an invitation,” explains Blad, “Usually we go out there and beg, ‘Can we please come do this?’ And he asked, ‘Can you please come here?’”

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When the USNS Mercy is en route, nurses do simulations, much like at BYU’s NLC, to keep their skills sharp.

First-class Veteran Care

Although veteran global health students travel to Washington D.C. each spring to tour military medical facilities, Blad and Hunsaker felt the additional trip to San Diego would further enrich the students’ military cultural understanding. What the two professors didn’t know was how beneficial the experience would be for them as well.

“I’ve cared for veterans, but until being with them an entire day and spending that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the military in their lives,” says Hunsaker, “It’s a part of them, it’s not just a little job. They’re part of a military family, they have a set of beliefs and they love their country. And they really are willing to do whatever needs to be done to serve it. I don’t think I ever knew, to that extent, and hadn’t felt as grateful as I should to them.”

Jeana Escobar, one of the global health nursing students on the trip, learned that veteran care starts with the basics. “Every Navy sailor we met said the same two things: first, that every veteran has a story and you should take time to listen to it and, second, veterans don’t want your sympathy. Veterans want you to listen to them and tell them what they need to do to progress in the healing process.”

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BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar practices CPR on one of the USNS Mercy’s simulation lab manikins.

Students repeatedly saw nurses’ compassionate care for veterans as they toured Naval Medical Center San Diego’s facilities. A therapist working in the wounded warrior unit even confessed that, after starting work with “these brave men and women,” he would find himself crying randomly because of so much pent-up emotion.

The hospital’s courtyard, which was retrofitted with different terrains and a rock climbing wall for amputees to practice using new prosthetic limbs, impressed several students. “I was especially touched by what the physical therapist shared with us about the rock wall,” says nursing student JeriAnn Pack. “He described how, when someone is discouraged and thinks they will never progress, they can look up and see someone with an injury as bad or worse than their own climbing the wall. I can only imagine how inspiring that would be.”

“The students learned very quickly to appreciate these men and women and the part that nursing plays in helping these veterans recover,” Blad says of the nurses on the Mercy and in the naval hospital. “It truly is the Healer’s art in action. The love they have for their country and their patients is inspiring. We could all be more like that with any of our patients.”

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An Unforgettable Experience

The Navy specifically planned the two-day trip in February to meet College of Nursing veteran global health objectives. In addition to touring the Mercy’s simulation center and hospital facilities for a day, students spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, as well as at Navy facilities on the base. “They really took their time and effort and energy, not only to make us feel welcome, but to help us in educating our students,” says Hunsaker.

To several students, the highlight of the trip was a panel where Navy officers and nurses shared their perspectives and personal stories of how they came to join the military. “It was really cool to see how different everyone was, and that they had all been brought to this common cause,” says nursing student Lauren Bretzing.


“They don’t have amazing living quarters,” says Heather Wilkinson. Seven nursing students show how cramped living quarters on the USNS Mercy are.

For students like Heather Wilkinson, who had previously interacted with elderly veterans, seeing young men and women recovering from current conflicts changed her perception of what a typical veteran looks like. Other students were impressed with the camaraderie and respect of military culture. Undoubtedly each student thought, as Breeze Hollingsworth did, “Maybe military service will be in my future and maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I want to better serve all veterans and active service men and women I come across.”

Because the San Diego trip was such an all-around success, the Navy has already invited Blad and Hunsaker’s class to come again next year. “We feel very strongly that our nurses need to learn how to care for veterans,” says Blad. “It doesn’t matter where they go or what hospital they serve in, as long as they’re within the United States, they’re going to be caring for veteran patients.”

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Volunteers at BYU Craft 301 Yarn Wigs for Children Battling Cancer

By Calvin Petersen

More than 500 people sacrificed sleep and St. Patrick’s Day plans to make yarn wigs for child cancer patients at the Magic Yarn Project’s largest-ever wig workshop. Co-hosted by the Magic Yarn Project and BYU College of Nursing, the event on March 17 was the second workshop of its kind.

“No one leaves these workshops without a smile on their face or without feeling like their simple act of love will make the world a better place. I love being able to witness that in their countenances,” said Holly Christensen, BYU alumna and co-founder of the Magic Yarn Project.


The Magic Yarn Project began in 2015 when Christensen crafted a yarn Rapunzel wig for her friend’s daughter, who had lost much of her hair in chemotherapy. Now three years later, the Magic Yarn Project has made the world a better place for over 7,000 children battling cancer in 36 countries. Each of these children has received a hand-made princess or pirate yarn wig at no cost. Wigs take approximately two hours to make and are crafted by volunteers at wig workshops.


Wig workshop volunteers pose with 301 completed wigs after the service event on March 17, 2018.

“It was a huge success!” Christensen said of this year’s BYU wig workshop. While most of the wigs will be distributed by BYU nursing students during their clinicals at Primary Children’s Hospital, Ryver had the chance to choose her wig in person. She wore an Anna wig and a wide smile as her mother pushed her around the Wilkinson Ballroom in a stroller. Not even three years old, Ryver was diagnosed with leukemia only a few months ago.

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“It was heart-warming to see Princess Ryver light up when she got her wig, and equally rewarding to see her mother get excited about picking out a wig with her. Ryver’s presence definitely made the workshop memorable and was a sweet reminder that this is what the project is all about,” said Christensen. For her, the experience of personally gifting a wig was rare; most wigs are mailed to individuals and cancer centers around the world.


The wig workshop at BYU brought the community together. Among the hundreds of volunteers knotting, braiding and decorating yarn hairpieces was 17-year-old Connor Munden. His grandmother’s involvement in the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter inspired an Eagle Scout Service Project to prepare for BYU’s workshop. Along with family and friends, Connor cut most of the yarn—thousands of feet of it—that eventually became 301 completed wigs.


In addition, students from BYU and members of the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter volunteered to teach those coming to the workshop how to make various wigs. “This event helped me realize there are lots of different ways to serve those with cancer,” said Maggie Gunn, a BYU nursing student and wig instructor at the workshop, “We may not be able to cure their cancer, but we can provide comfort and love which, in my opinion, is just as important as the chemo.”

“With the Magic Yarn Project, there’s something for everyone,” concluded BYU nursing student Jessica Small, “Whether bedazzling flowers or tying yarn to a wig, people of all ages can come together and make a difference in the lives of so many children.”

Next year’s BYU wig workshop will take place on March 16, 2019. To learn more about the Magic Yarn Project, visit

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“Everyone knows someone who has struggled with cancer: a family member, friend, patient or ward member. While we can’t cure someone’s cancer, we can help, comfort and love them. Making these wigs is a way to show child cancer patients that they’re loved,” said Jane Goodfellow, a fourth-semester BYU nursing student. Goodfellow (right) is pictured with fellow nursing student Leah Guerrero (left). The two volunteered as instructors at the wig workshop.



“A Really Good Big Deal”

Conducting cancer research with some of the best scholars in the field? Working in world-class facilities? Plus a stipend? And getting your name on a published article as an undergrad?

While this may sound too good to be true, three BYU College of Nursing students will be living the dream while working as student interns over the summer at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The students—James Reinhardt, Christin Hickman, and Cortney Welch—will not only contribute to the fight against cancer, but also gain invaluable research and publishing skills that they can use to improve BYU’s own cancer research program.

BYU has a long of history of involvement in cancer studies. Currently, cancer studies is managed through the Simmons Center for Cancer Research (SCCR), which arranges for students to work with BYU professors to investigate cancer. Lately, there has been an emphasis on connecting the SCCR with outside locations as well.

“[The SCCR’s] director, Merrill Christensen, has been looking for opportunities for our students to go away from the BYU campus, get a research experience, and then ideally come back to BYU and share with colleagues, including professors that they might RA for,” explains assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes.

Himes, whose own research focuses heavily on cancer, played a major role in promoting the internship to students and helping them with the application. One unique aspect of the OSUCCC internship is that students had to choose what areas of cancer research they wanted to work in for the summer, and Himes aided students with understanding the different options.

The internship, she explains, is a wonderful opportunity for students to be involved in the research process.

“They’re going to be immersed full-time in a lab, working with professors who are doing current research, and they will be given a small piece of that research to work with some,” she says. The students will analyze that data and derive conclusions from it. They will present that information in a poster, and then later will present it orally to a panel of PhD professors. Following that, they will be able to publish their research in a scholarly article.


Right to left: James Reinhardt, Cortney Welch, Christin Hickman

For the students, the opportunity to complete the internship has a surreal feeling to it, especially since they will be doing real research with real data with established professionals in the field of cancer research.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the research process works,” Welch says. “I’ve never been a part of research before, so I think this is something really interesting and important to let me know how I can contribute to research in the future and to get my foot in the door.”

One factor that drives the students is an interest in studying cancer.

“I’ve just always had this desire because I feel like cancer is something so mysterious—like, nobody has come up with a direct cure for it quite yet,” says Hickman. “I want to be able to help find that cure or at least find a prevention for cancer and then like I said, there’s not many opportunities for nursing students really to have this kind of cancer research internship.”

Reinhardt is interested in finding out if cancer research is something he would enjoy or not. Last year, he participated in a movement where he rode his bike to raise money for cancer research. Now he feels that he is contributing to the fight against cancer with a new approach.

“I’ve already fulfilled one part of that passion by riding for it and fundraising for it, but it will cool to see that this is the education and informational part of the same disease process,” he says. “Instead of fundraising, I’m learning about it to help in a different way.”

Overall, there is a consensus that the opportunity is, as Himes puts it, a “really good big deal.”

BYU College of Nursing Faculty and Students Get a Crash-Course in Lobbying

How do you get a Congress member to support funding for international child vaccinations? As much as that sounds like the start of a bad joke, last month several BYU College of Nursing faculty and students were taught that the best way is to just go to his or her office and convince them yourself. Then they did it.


Associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy, assistant professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh, assistant teaching professor Gaye Ray, and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden were joined by graduate students Sarah Davis, Morgan Bateman, Chelsea Schult, and Katie Hill for the trip, organized by Shot@Life.

“[Shot@Life] is part of UNICEF and the goal for Shot @Life is to maintain funding for global immunizations so they work with UNICEF to provide that funding,” Eden explains.

The organization, which is part of the United Nations Foundation, selects and trains established vaccine advocates (labelled “champions”) on how to lobby for international child vaccination funding.

“We had the opportunity to learn how to do it last year, and it was very obvious that we needed to bring students to have this same experience since you can’t match it,” Eden says.

The professors announced the opportunity to the graduate students, and many had their interest piqued. Four students filled out the rigorous application and were accepted to the program.

“For me, I think it seemed like the perfect mix of policy and global health and seeing how the two meet together, and that just really fascinates me,” Bateman explained. Other students had participated with Luthy in a meeting of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines in December, which laid the groundwork for their interest in the Shot@Life event.

The conference, which was held February 11-14, started with a day of training on effective lobbying. Professional lobbyists and representatives from groups like the World Health Organization offered instruction in the art of the elevator pitch and winning over policymakers.

“They just said to speak to what your representatives are interested or passionate about,” Hill says. “Coming from Utah, we were encouraged to go for the global safety/safety of the United States because there is so much travel back and forth that just because we’re helping people in other countries doesn’t mean that it isn’t beneficial to the United States.”


“Another thing I was impressed with was they told us to make it personal so that when you go and meet with these people you show your passion, you show why you traveled across the country for this cause,” Bateman says.

This passion was also combined with numbers to make the argument stronger.

“They trained us on specific talking points,” Davis says. “It was not only why are we involved and why are we passionate about immunizations globally, but also gave us the tools to use the facts.”

“We talked about the cost effectiveness of international vaccines, and how for every dollar spent on a childhood vaccine is like a $44 savings for the US in the long run,” Hill says.


“They had people from the top lobbying firms come,” Luthy says. “Your whole day prior to ‘Hill Day’ is all preparation and then you have ‘Hill Day’ which is all day.”

“Hill Day” is when the students and faculty are sent to visit different congressional representatives and lobby them to support vaccinations. The process requires that students and faculty step out of their comfort zones and interact with politicians and staffers.

“Shot@Life actually sets up appointments with different congressmen and they take a group of us and we just walk around the capital and go to the different offices,” Eden says.

As they went about their lobbying rounds, the students were surprised by how much of a difference they felt they could make as they visited different offices.

“It was really awesome,” Hill says. “I don’t think I had any idea how much your representatives actually care about what their constituents think.”

“What surprised me is that for the most part our representatives and our senators are accessible,” Bateman says. “You may not be meeting with the senator or the congressperson themselves, but someone is there that you can meet with. I think that that’s what America is all about—it’s making your government officials accessible.”

One of the trip’s highlights was a personal meeting the students and faculty had with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. He expressed his support for Shot@Life’s goals, and the students were able to ask him about lessons he had learned from serving so long in Congress.

Overall, students came away from the experience with a stronger appreciation for their own capabilities to bring about change as citizens.

“I think it was an empowering experience,” Luthy says.


“I think a lot of them developed a passion for advocacy and that they could actually make a difference and learn how to get involved,” Eden says. “Being out here in Utah you feel like you can’t do anything about what’s going on in Washington D.C., but to be actually be out there and see that show that there’s potential.”

“Going forward, it encourages me to be more involved in issues that I feel strongly about whether they’re global health type things or they’re issues impacting Utah families right here within our own state as well as policy issues for increased practice for nurse practitioners, anything like that,” Davis says. “I feel like I want to have more of a voice because I see that you really can make a difference.”

“This experience showed to me that you don’t have to be in Africa, you don’t have to be in Southeast Asia to make a difference,” Bateman says. “It doesn’t have to be this grand thing—you can do things here in your own country, here in your own state to make an impact on global health.”

Now that the students are returned, they have the opportunity to continue their advocacy work. Shot@Life, Luthy explains, expects students to follow-up on the meetings they had in Washington D.C. and remain involved in promoting childhood vaccination funding.

“It’s fun to go to this summit and get all fired up and meet with lots of other people, but the work continues throughout the year to make sure that we are raising awareness for vaccines and the importance of global vaccines,” Hill says.